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Once moe the skie was blacke, the thounder rolde; Faste reyneynge' oer the plaine a prieste was seen; Ne dighte full proude, ne buttoned up in golde;
His cope and jape were graie, and eke were clene; A Limitoure he was of order seene;
And from the pathwaie side then turned hee, Where the pore almer laie binethe the holmen tree.
An almes, sir priest! the droppynge pilgrim sayde,
The mister' pilgrim dyd for halline 5 shake.
We are Goddes stewards all, nete' of oure owne we bare.
But ah! unhailie pilgrim, lerne of me,
Scatheanie give a rentrolle to their Lorde.
Here take my semecope," thou arte bare I see ; Tis thyne; the Seynctes will give me mie rewarde. He left the pilgrim, and his waie aborde." Virgynne and hallie Seyncte, who sitte yn gloure, 12 Or give the mittee's will, or give the gode man power!
2 A short surplice, worn by friars of an inferior class, and secular priests.
To Johne Ladgate.
[Sent with the following Songe to Ella.]
Well thanne, goode Johne, sythe' ytt must needes be
Thatt thou and I a bowtynge matche must have,
Rememberr Stowe, the Bryghtstowe Carmalyte, Who whanne Johne Clarkynge, one of myckle lore,5 Dydd throwe hysgauntlette-penne, wyth hym to fyghte, Hee showd smalle wytte, and showd hys weaknesse
Thys ys mie formance, whyche I nowe have wrytte, The best performance of mie lyttel wytte.
3 Favour. [Speght, Kersey, and Bailey interpret it 'a made request.' The orthography in the former is the same as in the text. In Bailey and Kersey it is spelt 'All-a-Bone.' See note to the same word in the third Eclogue.-ED.]
4 'Stowe should be 'Stone,' a Carmelite friar of Bristol, educated at Cambridge, and a famous preacher.-WARTON.
SONGE TO ELLA,
LORDE OF THE CASTEL OF BRYSTOWE YNNE DAIES OF YORE.
Oн thou, orr what remaynes of thee,
Ella, the darlynge of futurity,
Lett thys mie songe bolde as thie courage be,
As everlastynge to posteritye.
Whanne Dacya's sonnes, whose hayres of bloude redde hue
Lyche kynge-cuppes brastynge wythe the morning due, Arraung'd ynne dreare arraie,
Upponne the lethale daie,
Spredde farre and wyde onne Watchets shore;
And bie thie valyante hande
Beesprengedd all the mees wythe gore.
Drawne bie thyne anlace3 felle,
Oh thou, whereer (thie bones att reste)
The dysmall crye of warre,
Orr seest somme mountayne made of corse of sleyne;
Orr seest the hatchedd' stede,
Ypraunceynge o'er the mede,
And neighe to be amenged the poynctedd speeres: Orr ynne blacke armoure staulke arounde
Embattel'd Brystowe, once thie grounde,
And glowe ardurous onn the Castle steeres;
Orr fierye round the mynsterr glare ;
Lyche Avones streme ensyrke ytte rounde,
Tylle ynne one flame all the whole worlde expyre."
1 Covered with achievements.
* The stanza of old English poetry is most commonly formed of lines of equal feet, and constantly preserves an uniform recurrence of the same systematic alternation of rhyme. The 'Songe to Ella' is composed in that devious and irregular measure, which has been called the 'Pindaric.' What shall we think of a Pindaric ode in the reign of Edward the Fourth? It is well known, that this novelty was reserved for the capricious ambition of Cowley's muse. The writers of the fifteenth century were not so fond of soaring. They had neither skill
nor strength for such towering flights.-WARTON.
Chatterton's verses have been shown to be too smooth and harmonious to be genuine compositions of antiquity: they are liable at the same time to the very opposite objection; they are too old for the era to which they are ascribed. This sounds like a paradox; yet it will be found to be true. The versification is too modern; the language often too ancient. It is not the language of any particular period of antiquity, but of two entire centuries! This is easily accounted for. Chatterton had no other means of writing old language, but by applying to glossaries and dictionaries, and these comprise all the antiquated words of preceding times; many provincial words used perhaps by a northern poet, and entirely unknown to a southern inhabitant; many words also, used in a singular sense by our ancient bards, and perhaps by them only once. -MALONE.
The underwritten Lines were
Composed by John Ladgate, a Priest in London, And sent to Rowlie, as an Answer to the preceding Songe of Ella.1
Havynge wythe mouche attentyon redde
Admyre the varses mouche I dyd,
Amongs the Greeces Homer was
The Brytish Merlyn oftenne hanne
Ynne Norman tymes, Turgotus and
Thenn Stowe, the Bryghtstowe Carmelyte,